Sunday 28 April 2013

White Sourdough with a Rye Ferment

I have been struggling after such a long winter to adjust to the slightly higher temperature in the house now that Spring seems to be making an attempt to arrive. The struggle is all to do with timing; I have for months been leaving my main dough to autolyze overnight but the last batch of bread was sadly mistimed resulting in a dough where the yeast was spent long before it was time to bake. The result was of course perfectly edible and strangely light, resembling if anything focaccia rather than my usual daily bread.
After thinking about this I decided I needed to add the main dough ingredients to my ferment when the ferment was still in the first stage of growth and was quite a way off its peak. This seemed to work, the dough this morning had risen but not overly so and after adding the salt and stretching a couple of times the dough began to show real signs of resistance, tightening up each time I stretched it, exactly what I was looking for.
I used a much higher ratio of rye to white flour when putting together the ferment than I normally do, along with reducing the amount of time the ferment had before adding the main dough ingredients, I believe this all helped deal with the higher temperature.

For this bread you will need,

For the ferment,
1 tablespoon of starter from the fridge
150g of rye flour
50g of strong white flour
200g of water

For the main dough
All of the ferment
1,200g of strong white flour
700g of water
21g of salt

Begin by mixing the ferment ingredients and placing them in  bowl, cover with cling film and leave to activate for 8 hours. Add the main dough ingredients apart from the salt and mix thoroughly; leave to rise overnight in a cool place. In the morning add the salt and mix in thoroughly. Transfer the dough to a large bowl or plastic container and leave to rise for 3 to 4 hours, stretching and folding the dough every hour. You should find the gluten in the dough develops strength over this period as the dough grows with trapped gas. Be careful to knock out as little of the trapped gas as possible when doing the stretching and folding process. Divide the dough into 3 and shape into whatever loaf shapes you prefer. Leave for anther 2 hours or so before baking in a hot oven 220C for 30 minutes. The length of time you leave the dough to rise for the final time will depend on how well you have been able to stretch the dough without degassing it. After careful shaping you should find the dough retains a good deal of the lightness you have been achieving during the rising time and so there will not be the need for doubling in size.

 I am impressed just how much a routine can be thrown by a change in temperature. This loaf was much more like the bread I eat every day. I think however it will take a couple of weeks of being more vigilant to get it right. It only goes to show, baking bread with wild yeast though hugely rewarding cannot be done to a strict formula, there is always a need to be watching out for what the dough requires you to do next.


  1. I guess that's what makes it so desirable... we can't always get it right. We always want what we might not be able to have ;)

  2. something is wrong with the recipe. 12kg of flour for 700g of water?

  3. Hello Dora, thank you for pointing the extra zero out, fat fingers I'm afraid, hard to imagine the result if anyone believed it to be correct, best wishes, Tôbi.


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